Is this man sitting at the Presidential Villa the same General Muhammadu Buhari we know? How can he be acting so differently in speech, actions and deeds from the man Nigeria voted for in the 2015 presidential election because of what was perceived as his impeccable integrity and a no-nonsense disposition to issues of corruption and security? How come the Buhari we knew suddenly went deaf and dumb to the extent that he no longer hears nor sees any evil, even when such disgraceful and heinous acts are being perpetrated right under his nose by those he single-handedly appointed into positions of trust? The Buhari we thought would put a good foundation in place is now so weak and incapacitated that he is allowing his regime to be completely hijacked and turned into a house of commotion. Sentiments apart, some things are just not adding up at all.
Does anyone contend that security, as an infrastructure, has completely collapsed in the country? The spate of heinous crimes (for instance, Fulani herdsmen mayhem from the North to South, unbridled kidnappings, even in Abuja, renewed Boko Haram nuisance with boldness) being perpetrated with impunity across the country do not show a government that is in charge, nor a country that is at peace with itself. What are they governing if people, even the poorest amongst us, cannot freely move around for fear of being shot dead or kidnapped? In a nation where almost all the infrastructures in every sector of its daily existence have completely collapsed, what remains for such a country to labeled a failed state?
The president scored himself very high in his first year of office for doing very well on addressing the spate of insecurity across the country, especially the Northeast, where we were told that Boko Haram has been defeated and downgraded. Is it not clear from what we are seeing now that the president only instilled a false sense of security and not actual security if you consider that kidnappings are now retail, herdsmen attacks are random and uncontrolled from North to South, and regular ambush of military and civilians in the Northeast have now acquired the euphemism “soft targets?”
Now the American and British authorities are warning their nationals of possible terror attacks in Abuja, the nation’s capital. The United States’ mission in Nigeria is sounding an alarm of a possible terror attack in Abuja, and warning its citizens residing or those who have businesses in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be watchful and exercise security caution. The mission said, in an emergency message on Monday, December 4, 2017, that the information available to it points in the direction of Boko Haram as the possible attackers, adding that their likely targets would be hotels frequently visited by Westerners.
This is part of the tragedy of Buhari’s divided house: Ordinarily, critical intelligence such as the ones available to the American and British authorities, would have been given (shared) to one or all top echelons of our security agencies, including the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Director General of the DSS, or even the Police Inspector General.
Pathetically, all those assigned the responsibility of managing the security infrastructure in the country are spending more time fighting and trying to pull down each other. The Police Inspector General, on whose domain civil and internal security falls, is busy fighting and doing all kinds of unprintable things, including dragging Senator Misau to court for saying the police force receives payments for officers deployed to guard politicians, oil and other businesses, and wealthy individuals, as if the Senator’s allegations were false.
Buhari’s Director General of the DSS has become more of a politician than a security manager that should be concerned with intelligence gathering to address the worsening security situations in the country. If he is not publicly fighting the Chief of Staff to the President, he is after the Acting EFCC Chairman. So what time does he have to focus on gathering intelligence to secure lives and properties across the country?
The AGF and the NSA are also there fighting on all fronts too. What kind of government is this that instead of working together as a team, everybody is fighting everybody? Yet the man that appointed all of them seem not to care at all or is it that the people he single-handedly appointed are now bigger than him?
If the DSS boss gets/generates intelligence on likely attacks by terrorists/herdsmen, is he going to share it with the police high command that his agency is in supremacy and political tussle with? The NSA that should have been serving as the central point is also not left out of the dirty cabal politics around the president.
Security is one of Buhari’s three-point agenda. Nigerians should stop being sentimental. If we are returning to the place where America and Britain are once again warning their nationals of dangers in Abuja, the verdict means that the administration has failed in the very agenda that gave it clear edge over the former administration. Is it not also glaring that the president is equally not doing well on the remaining two points in his agenda: the fight against corruption and improving the economy?
Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, nepotism, a virulent form of corruption, is ruining this administration. When a ruler surrounds himself with his relatives and friends, the result is failure. They take things for granted because of the closeness to the ruler. When they err, the ruler finds it difficult to discipline them because of their close relationship. Some people may argue that your own people will protect you as a ruler. But the problem of discipline defeats whatever protection they may offer you.
How can groups of killer squads hold meetings, plan attacks on communities/settlements, and actually go on to successfully implement it without any of our security agencies picking even vague intelligence of such plans before it happens? It is incomprehensible! Clearly, it is either top managers of some of our security agencies are part of the problem or that we have completely lost it as a nation of serious–minded people.
What actually is the day to day function in specific terms of the Department of State Security (DSS)? Is it only to hound down political opponents of those misruling this country? Is the DSS not supposed to be interfacing with the Police on exchange of intelligence? In fact, do they actually gather intelligence on issues pertaining to the security of lives and property of the ordinary Nigerians apart from hanging around the President and governors?
The DSS in itself, in my opinion, seems to be defectively structured. The organization is supposed to be the Nigerian equivalent of the American FBI and the British MI5. If that is the case, then why does the Nigerian DSS function only within and around State House, Abuja and around state governors and their government houses? Let’s not even talk of the Police, as they ones seemingly have a near-zero capacity of being proactive in intelligence gathering.
Clearly, it is either top managers of some of our security agencies are part of the problem or that we have completely lost it as a nation of serious –minded people.
Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.